Futures: Emerging Issues and Driving Forces
When traveling, tourists are now more interested in exploring spots the locals frequent, rather than visiting stereotypical vacation destinations. This consumer interest in finding uncurated, authentic experiences is also influencing decisions in commerce, politics, entertainment, dining and employment opportunities.
Using the power of the Internet, companies or individuals can leverage the crowd for assistance with ideas, solutions, labor or funding. The combination of bottom-up and top-down processing in crowdsourcing leads to more efficient and diverse solutions. Our connected world is empowering humanity as never before.
The age-old idea of immortality is getting a 21st century reboot with digital platforms and new technologies allowing us to live forever in a cyber sense. The implications to social norms and often lagging regulations will be significant as our notions of humanity are challenged when death can be cheated with a software update.
Growing in popularity is the idea that cities should strive to be economically innovative, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. What will increasingly differentiate cities is not how “smart” they are in terms of technology, but the extent to which they are life-giving, holistic and making the world a better place.
Gaming has come a long way since the clunky home consoles of the 1960s. Today, gaming is ubiquitous, allowing users to simultaneously and seamlessly play on a multitude of platforms. With the greater adoption of the Internet of Things, video games are poised to have an unprecedented impact on the way that we live, work and interact.
New technologies (such as 3D and 4D printing) have taken traditional manufacturing out of large companies and put it in the hands of the consumer. People are now able to print their own creations at home while industrial printers are producing buildings, human tissue, food and products that can change or build themselves.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger of records and transactions that is resistant to modification. A blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network of computers, assuring that the data in any given block cannot be changed retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and agreement by the entire network.
Unlike the acquisition of physical objects in which the buyer retains all rights to the product, digital ownership is slightly less straightforward. Licenses for use are replacing traditional custody and limiting the consumer’s rights, but will this even matter in a world where possession is forever being redefined by digital access?
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, were initially developed for military use, where the technology was operated by a remotely located pilot. Today, drones are increasingly used by civilians for a variety of purposes including recreational, commercial, scientific and agricultural purposes.
Whether robots continue to manifest as commonplace devices that blend into our routines, or become so life-like that no one can tell the difference between humans and humanoids, there is little doubt that they will radically change how we learn, work, create, relate to one another and even perceive what it means to be human.
In a world where information is available freely and immediately, human attention is a scarce and valuable commodity. The need to capture and retain users’ focus has led to the development of smarter algorithms, user-friendly interfaces and data-filtering tools. The societal price of these “improvements,” however, may be high.
Collaborative consumption is a grassroots movement facilitated by social media in which individuals and businesses share or rent items (e.g., cars, spare rooms, tools, even skills). As this trend continues to manifest, we are quickly moving into a world where access to assets is trumping ownership.
In our increasingly interconnected world, there is a hyperawareness of both global humanitarian crises as well as those charitable causes that fall closer to home. As a result, new philanthropic models, fueled by social media and often backed by wealthy benefactors, have begun to replace traditional charitable campaigns.
Through the use of new technologies and platforms, consumers have the ability to create their own, individual brands and experiences. This shift away from the “one-size-fits-all” mentality is driving greater expectations for custom products in every facet of an individual’s complex lifestyle, including health and wellness.
Our reputation in both the physical and digital worlds impacts our ability to gain the trust of others. Increasingly, earning an income is dependent on having a strong online reputation and a robust social media following. As this trend continues to evolve, our social standing may influence more than just our careers.
Advances in AI, mechatronics and language processing will drive near-human capability
VR & Telepresence
COVID-19 has thrust the world forwards in terms of telepresence and remote collaboration. Virtual presence and remote work have become a normal part of work and family life. In response, companies in the telepresence and VR (virtual reality) space have made significant advances in the space. Separating the physical location from the work location means safer training.
True Artificial Intelligence
For constrained environment functions, machines can often beat humans (e.g. machines can drive cars better than humans; IBM's Watson makes medical diagnosis more accurately than any human doctor). However, you can’t get one single machine that does it all better than humans....yet. A survey of attendees at the International Conference on Machine Learning, and the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in 2015 - the two seminal events for AI researchers globally - produced an averaged estimate that human level machine intelligence would exist by 2055. However Forbes published a prediction of 2045 in May of 2022.
AI, Situational Awareness and high capacity computing fuse to create intelligent and autonomous cars, boats, planes and drones.
Traditionally, values have been created and passed along through families, communities and associations. However, the rise of the Internet is changing the way values are formed and disseminated, and the landscape of the digital environment is even fostering new values that may or may not translate to the physical world.
Approximately two billion people worldwide are avid gamers, and the majority of these individuals play on their mobile devices. Coupled with the popularity of social media, user-generated content and VR/AR technology, will we expect every day activities such as working, shopping and eating to be delivered through the lens of entertainment?
Today’s landscape of megacities, hypermobility and digital economies is driving the move to “global citizenship.” As several experts have noted, the adage that “geography is destiny” has given way to the idea that “connectivity is destiny.” In this new world, nationality and citizenship no longer determine economic and social success.
The rise of private spaceflight companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic means that the final frontier may soon be within public reach. These firms have announced plans to put space tourists on orbital or suborbital flights within the next few years, and several prominent voices believe that these experiences will profoundly alter humanity.
We can no longer rely on iterative innovation in business or society. As organizations move past the concepts of top, bottom and lateral disruption to a more liberating and empowering mindset of transformation, they will find that the “unknowns” that once pushed them from the outside will instead become their greatest assets.
Engineers, designers and city developers are turning to nature as inspiration for new ideas and products. Some of these innovators are pulling insights from the different forms and shapes of various animals and plants, while others are focusing more on the function through which organisms move, communicate and survive.
Science is no longer relegated to sterile labs or experts with advanced degrees. With the help of technology, average citizens are able to engage in real scientific discovery and research in their own homes and backyards. Their data collection, analysis and experiments have led to major breakthroughs and advancements.
With the Internet increasingly becoming the global hub for economic, political and social development, businesses and governments must be vigilant in safeguarding against cyber attacks. This is today’s political warfare, with the goal of disrupting existing systems, challenging the prevailing order and undermining trust in society’s foundations.
Traditionally, energy is generated at power plants and moves through the grid (electricity substations, transformers and power lines) to reach consumers. With the advent of at-home energy production and distributed solutions, energy can now be decentralized, modular, flexible and exchanged on a peer-to-peer basis.
The days of the 9 to 5 job are coming to an end. Due to the ubiquity of digital and virtual technologies, individuals can work remotely from anywhere in the world. This landscape of intangibility may reframe the issue of work/life balance, and even allow people to be more connected than ever before.
The IPCC predicts temperature rise; sea level rise, and growing natural disasters. The implications for migration, energy, industry and consumption are huge.
Most students today are educated in much the same way as their counterparts of a previous era, with a one-size-fits-all, predominantly analog approach. Ballooning college tuition costs coupled with a growing disconnect between dated curriculum and a rapidly changing world suggests a sector that is ripe for disruption.
DIYers, hackers and makers share a common passion of hands-on tinkering to develop innovative products. This creative class develops not only artwork, technology and tools but even genetically-modified organisms, robots and drones. They are inspiring a worldwide maker movement to develop solutions to grand problems.
The phrase “bigger is better” is being pushed aside in favor of smaller, compact and minimalistic ideals. People are purchasing fewer belongings, living in tiny homes, engaging in micro experiences and even participating in the “gig economy” that affords short-term job commitments. What other small wonders does the future hold?
Ownership is being redefined. While people are still seeking patent protection for their ideas, many more are creating software, music and art that can be reused, remixed and openly shared without expectations of compensation. As society embraces this model, we may see the open sharing of such things as labor and governance.
Consumers are creating some of today’s most popular entertainment, fashion and journalism. By allowing users to contribute to product development process, companies build brand awareness and trust. As the demand for this content rises, companies may devise new ways to connect with these creators.
The principles of Te Tiriti O Waitangi provide a foundational document for NZ and are a key part of all government expectations. Māori language and tikanga are becoming more integrated into school curricula. There is an increasing global focus on indigenous thinking and righting the wrongs of the past. Funders/ philanthropic organisations are expecting evidence of biculturalism, diversity and collaboration as part of their application and approval processes. We have an increasing number of Māori and Pasifika businesses, startups and technology entrepreneurs, providing a rich opportunity to build on our country’s uniqueness.
Social Enterprise and ESG
Millennials and Gen Z are driving greater social responsibility in business and community. How they consume, invest and play will all shape the future of business and society.
Universal Basic Income
Universal basic income is a proposed government-guaranteed payment that each citizen receives. Its purpose is to ensure all people have the means to purchase necessities and improve their quality of life. It could improve the poverty, education, housing, health and social landscape dramatically. Watch the video